Polk Audio is well-known for its architectural speaker line-up and range of home theatre systems, but now the speaker manufacturer wants to go head-to-head with multi-room specialist, Sonos. To do that, the company is targeting the hottest speaker category currently in the marketplace – smart speakers.
Dubbed the Polk Assist, this smart speaker is designed to be Polk Audio’s answer to the Sonos One. It’s a compact, voice-controlled device that is designed to play better audio than what is currently offered by the likes of the Amazon Echo or Google Home. What’s more, the speaker offers something the Sonos One doesn’t – support for the Google Assistant.
While Sonos promises that Google Assistant support is coming, those who are tied to Google’s AI currently have to look elsewhere for their fix. That puts the Polk Assist in good-standing, although we wish the company took the same approach as Sonos and offered both voice assistants. After all, while the Google Assistant may be better at answering questions, Alexa maintains its lead in the smart home space.
This may not be a Sonos speaker, but it still boasts pretty good multi-room prowess. That’s because it ships with support for Google’s Chromecast technology. That allows users to pair this speaker with any other speakers supporting the Chromecast protocol, or standalone speakers that have a Chromecast Audio plugged into them. That allows for an incredibly diverse audio system, as the Polk Assist could sync up its audio with anything from a £40 Google Home Mini to a £59,000 Beolab 90 speaker. Meanwhile, the Sonos One can only be paired with other Sonos speakers, unless consumers are willing to stump up another £350 per speaker for a Sonos Connect.
Brains & Beauty
The Polk Assist doesn’t just boast the brains of the Google Assistant, but it also packs a 2.5cm tweeter and 7.5cm mid/bass driver, as well as a simple exterior that boasts a stain-proof grille, making it ideal for use in the kitchen. That grille is also detachable, for those who would like the exposed look.
One thing that set the Sonos One apart from many smart speakers was its super-accurate microphone array. Unfortunately, early reports suggest that the Polk Assist is a little more erratic, although it does offer a manual action button for activating the Assistant if the ‘OK Google’ wake word fails to work.
For those wishing to get their hands on the Polk Assist will have to wait until July, where it will be on sale in the UK and US. It’ll be priced at £179 at launch, bringing it under the price of the Sonos One.